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What is big data?Big data refers to large and complex data sets that are made out of both structured and unstructured data. They are often too big to be analyzed and managed by traditional techniques. Big data analytics is therefore the process of researching massive amounts of complex data in order to reveal hidden patterns or identify secret correlations. Who uses big data?Big data analytics is used by industries of every type, although mosly by businesses and organizations that have a place in the digital ecology as the internet makes access to data very easy. What is the problem?Citizens whose data is collected are not always aware of the extent to which their data is accessible, used, sold and transfered to third parties. Neither are they always aware of their online behavior being monitored. This makes it a matter of public policy and an impetus for regulation.Information versus privacy
Digital transformation is affecting entire segments of our society and industries of every type. Particularly, this transformation alters the way organizations create value in an era where information, knowledge, and attention are the newly scarce goods. With the rise of the internet, social media and digital platforms, users are increasingly expecting to receive services that are tailored to their needs. But at what cost?
In the era of individualization, companies and organizations are increasingly customer-centric. The process of collecting and analyzing customer data allows them to re-evaluate their value proposition and enables for more informed decision-making. But big data analytics raises some fundamental questions. Is data collected in a transparent way? Who is accountable in its distribution? Which stakeholders are responsible in cases of data misuse? Are customers aware that their data is being collected and that their online behavior is being monitored? While these questions refer to the use of big data analytics in corporate levels of aggregation, the issue is actually transnational, multilevel and spans across a variety of fields. Thus, there is a profound economic, political and societal interest to better define, understand and ultimately regulate this phenomenon.
Big data is a socio-technological phenomenon as it incorporates information produced by people, things, and their interactions (Boyd, Crawford, 2012). As often, emergent technologies are immersed in a environment of uncertainty and necessitate critical reflexion on their possible outcomes. Big data is here to stay. How can we promote its ethical and transparent use? When it comes to researching (collecting, structuring and analyzing) human interactions and behavior, it is easy to cross the line of privacy, even in light of virtuous motives. Whether the data in question is ‘public’ (on social media) or private (between customer-supplier), the analyst should reflect on the way he or she collects, analyzes and publishes the data of the subjects involved. There should be a shared understanding between the analyst and the subject about what is being collected and for what purposes. Indeed, the subjects themselves should be aware of how their online data is being operationalized and should be able to give their informed consent. As there are many actors involved and as the matter is technical in nature, it is difficult to create a dialogue between relevant stakeholders as well as informing laypeople on the implications and challenges of big data in regards to their conduct online. 

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What is being done?
Computer scientists, engineers and mathematicians are in the process of creating efficient methods for privacy preservation in big data analytics, with focus on encryption techniques and on the safeguarding of anonymity. However, more enforcement mechanisms should be established to ensure that companies and organizations actually implement these measures in the first place. This is why legal and political action is needed to enforce regulatory practices. In May 2018, the General Data Protection  Regulation (GDPR) will officially be implemented. This EU protection regime aims to strengthen data protection regulations throughout the EU and will apply severe sanctions in cases of violation. While this is a great start, much more needs to be done. Governments should encourage public participation so that people can deliberate on these matters in a collective and informed way. After all, they are the ones that are affected by the 

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